Revealed: 62 private schools withdrawing from Teachers' Pension Scheme

Sixty-two private schools have told the government this year they plan to withdraw from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme ahead of a huge rise in employer contributions.

The amount schools will have to pay into the scheme will rise by 40 per cent from September.

The Department for Education has said it will only fund this increase for state schools until the next spending review, leaving private schools warning the increase could force them to close or raise fees.

Schools Week reported in April that at least 10 private schools were considering leaving the scheme, but it has emerged the actual number is six times greater.

In response to a freedom of information request last month, it’s been revealed a total of 62 private schools notified the DfE of their intention to withdraw from the scheme since the pension rise announcement.

Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, said the “first preference” for schools would be to remain in the TPS “where possible and if affordable”, but warned they were facing “significant cost increases” under the planned changes.

“Schools take issues around affordability very seriously and are acutely aware of the sacrifices families make when choosing an independent education.”

An exodus of private schools from the scheme could leave state schools facing further pension hikes.

Kate Atkinson, a pension expert at the National Association of Head Teachers, previously told Schools Week the current contributions from private schools were helping to cover a predicted £1.7 billion black hole in the scheme.

The new figures show between September 1, 2018 and March 31, just four schools said they would be quitting the scheme. However, between April 1, 2019 and July 25, 2019, another 58 did the same.

Figures for the number of private schools withdrawing from the TPS are not published annually.

But another FOI request has revealed that 181 schools left the scheme between 2010 and January 2019 – the equivalent to 20 a year for each of the nine years, suggesting the new figures show a large rise.

Private schools are not obliged to join the TPS, and need government permission to do so.

However, they are free to leave whenever they want by writing to the education secretary. At that point, all teachers are withdrawn. Currently, private schools must have either all staff in or all staff out of the TPS.

Eleven of the 62 schools on the list are run by the Alpha Plus Group, which confirmed in April it planned to withdraw its 21 schools and colleges from the scheme.

In June, teachers at St Edward’s School in Oxford went on strike over the private school’s plans to exit the teacher pension scheme in September 2020.

A spokesperson for St Edward’s told Schools Week at the time that the increase in contributions was a “huge financial burden which cannot simply be absorbed without it having a severe inflationary impact on the fees parents pay.”

The government is considering allowing private schools to have a “phased withdrawal” from the TPS, meaning current teachers could remain in the scheme but it would be closed for new entrants.

Of the 360 private schools that responded to the DfE’s pension consultation, 185 indicated their school could leave the TPS and 57 said their school could close as a result of the rise.

In June, the Association of School and College Leaders said the “answer cannot be to withdraw from the TPS. Instead, employers should make every effort to make savings elsewhere in order to continue to offer access to the TPS.”

 

The 62 private schools withdrawing from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme

Avenue House School, Ealing

St Christopher’s School, Devon

The Croft Preparatory School, Warwickshire

Witham Hall School, Lincolnshire

Abercorn School, Westminster

Arnold Lodge School, Warwickshire

Birchfield School, Shropshire

Boundary Oak School, Hampshire

Brooke Priory School, Rutland

Castle House School, Telford and Wrekin

Cheam School, Hampshire

Chepstow House School, Kensington and Chelsea

Claires Court School, Windsor and Maidenhead

Cricklade Manor Prep, Wiltshire

Dolphin School, Wokingham

Falcons Preparatory School for Boys, Richmond-upon-Thames

Falcons School for Girls, Wandsworth

Great Ballard School, West Sussex

Greenbank School, Stockport

Hanford School, Dorset

Hatherop Castle School, Gloucestershire

Heathfield Knoll School, Worcestershire

Heywood Preparatory School, Wiltshire

Highfield and Brookham Schools, West Sussex

Hilden Grange School, Kent

Holme Grange School, Wokingham

International School of London (Surrey), Surrey

Luckley House School, Wokingham

Marymount International School, Kingston-upon-Thames

Mead School, Kent

Park School, Bournemouth

Pembridge Hall School, Kensington and Chelsea

Plumtree School, Nottinghamshire

Plymouth College, Plymouth

Portland Place School, Westminster

Prince’s Mead School, Hampshire

Redhill High School, Pembrokeshire

Rookwood School, Hampshire

Rupert House School, Oxfordshire

Rydes Hill Preparatory School, Surrey

Sandroyd School, Wiltshire

Scarborough College, North Yorkshire

Sinclair House School, Hammersmith and Fulham

St Anthony’s Preparatory School, Camden

St Anthony’s School for Girls, Barnet

St David’s Prep, Bromley

St Edward’s School, Reading

St Edward’s School, Oxfordshire

St Faith’s at Ash School, Kent

St Peter’s School, Northamptonshire

Sunningdale School, Windsor and Maidenhead

The Falcons School, Hounslow

The Firs School, Cheshire West and Chester

Thetford Grammar School, Norfolk

Twyford School, Hampshire

Westonbirt School, Gloucestershire

Westville House School, Bradford

Wetherby Kensington, Kensington and Chelsea

Wetherby Preparatory School, Westminster

Wetherby School, Kensington and Chelsea

Wetherby Senior School, Westminster

Wychwood School, Oxfordshire